The Right Way to Squeeze a Fat Man Into a Small Seat

Julie Ryan Evans

ferris wheelLast week I wrote an article titled "Can't Get a Seat on the Bus? Blame the Fat People," which really offended some people. I was called everything from rude to insensitive to a "huge jerk." Weight clearly is a touchy matter, but in hopes clarifying/defending my point a bit more without offending anyone else in the process (unlikely I know), I'd like to introduce you to John Memmer.

I've never met Memmer, but I read his story on, and it perfectly illustrates my point, that expanding our world to accommodate America's expanding waistlines does more harm than good. My point wasn't that fat people are lazy, awful human beings, but rather that sometimes a little reminder from our physical world of just how big we are isn't a bad thing -- even if we already know.

Memmer's nudge came when he couldn't budge his bod into the seat of an amusement park ride he wanted to go on with his son. The 39-year-old described his humiliation:

The attendant tried to push and squeeze me into the seat, but to no avail. I was too big to fit. So there I was with hundreds of people staring at me as all of this was going on, and then I heard my son start to cry as I had to climb off the ride.

Heartbreaking, but it was also a massive dose of the motivation he needed to change his lifestyle. He said, "All the shoulda, coulda, wouldas catalyzed into an intense desire to finally do something about it." Since that day at the amusement park, he has lost and kept off more than 100 pounds. Had amusement park rides just been expanded to accommodate overweight guests like Memmer, Memmer may still be one of those overweight guests.

I'm well aware of the very small percentage of people who do eat right and exercise regularly and are still obese because of medical conditions. But it's a very small percentage of people who can't lose weight if they really try. Most people can get fit if they put in the time and the effort. It's finding the willpower, time, and dedication to do it that's challenging -- VERY challenging, especially with so many emotional issues that are often tied up in eating. I get it; I have my own issues with food. But expanding America and our buses and the like isn't going to help, and as John Memmer illustrates, sometimes it takes getting into a tight situation to get on the right track.

Have you ever had one of those turning-point moments when you knew it was time you had to get serious about your health and fitness?

Image via colin+right.bracket/Flickr

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